The number of victims appeared set to go even higher, with crews checking charred homes and vehicles and the coast guard scouring beaches and deeper waters.
There is no formal count of the missing. "It looks like the area was hit by a rocket", said Leonidas Leonidou, head of a team of firefighters from Cyprus. The blaze broke out Monday afternoon during a hot, dry spell but the cause was not immediately clear. Many homes in the area were left as charred hulls.
Alexis Tsipras, the country's prime minister and leader of the Syriza party, declared three days of national mourning but added: "We mustn't let mourning overwhelm us, because these hours are hours of battle, unity, courage and above all of solidarity". In addition to those killed, 164 adults and 23 children were injured, according to the fire service.
Firefighters, aided by aircraft dropping water, were tackling the remaining areas in the two main blazes near the capital.
Local communities were evacuated and the blaze shut down a almost 20-kilometre section on two highways linking the Peloponnese with central Greece.
Authorities urged the public to contact them about the missing. So they huddled together but were overcome by the flames.
A witness told Reuters they saw at least four people dead on a narrow road clogged with cars heading to the safe haven of a nearby beach. People jammed roads and freeways, trying to get away from the fires only to be trapped in their cars by the deadly flames.
Coast guard and private boats picked them up to be transported to safer coastal towns.
"It happened very fast". When they reached the beach and there was nowhere more to run, they swam into the ocean, choking and blinded by the smoke and pulled by the strong current. Two of his group didn't survive.
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The girls were spotted on a rescue boat but no trace of them has been recorded on the vessel.
"I ran out like a insane person, got to the beach and put my head in the water". It saved my life.
Yiannis Philipopoulos said he and his wife recognized 9-year-old Sophia and Vasiliki in the news footage after spending a fruitless day searching hospitals and giving DNA samples at the Athens morgue.
Among the survivors was former Greek Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga.
A senior fire chief went on state TV to appeal to people to leave the area of Kineta west of Athens after some tried to stay on their properties. "We managed to find a small gap and we made it out".
"The Australian embassy in Athens has confirmed with local authorities that no Australians are known to be affected by forest fires near Athens at this time", a spokesperson for DFAT said.
Fires continued to burn in other parts of the country too, with one on the island of Crete the most severe.
Heavy rain is forecast across southern Greece today, which it is hoped will help the firefighting effort.
It was the worst wildfire to hit Greece since August 2007, when fires erupted in the outskirts of Athens, killing 67 people. Associated Press writer Costas Kantouris in Thessaloniki contributed.